- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press (Mar 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0299187845
- ISBN-13: 978-0299187842
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,553,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The novel's hero thus enters the world marked as an outsider. As his life unfolds, we see his quest to educate himself, to embrace his Jewish identity, to experience sex, to find love, and ultimately to determine his place in the world. Along the way are many stunning surprises--for both Guedali and the reader.
"Centaur" seems to me to exemplify the concept of "magical realism." The book deftly blends elements of fantasy, science fiction, and social satire. Scliar explores many types of relationship: between European and Native American, Jew and Gentile, man and woman, parent and child. This is a deeply moving, truly brilliant novel by one of the most extraordinary voices in Latin American literature.
It would be unfair to go beyond the description of the novel. So, I will start with the main character, Guedali Tartakowsky, who is a centaur born into a normal Jewish family. Amazingly, his family tries everything so that he fits into their small community. There are clashes with other people as Guedali wants to escape the safety of his family to meet others. It may seem a little mystical and ridiculous. But, Guedali is not so unlike everyone else who must find himself by living on his own. Many of the qualities in Guedali shows how much more human than us. He may have hooves but his emotions and longing to be accepted and thoughts about growing up normal.
Our reaction to deformities resonates strongly in today's society. If we could change things like remove a large mold, then would it significantly change our life for the better? In most cases, the answer is yes and who knows if the mold was malignant. But, what if it is not so bad and everyone around doesn't mind it. Would you risk changing it for other people who feel uncomfortable? That may be a complete simplification of Guedali's problem but you see where I am going...
So many issues are addressed about knowing yourself. What makes you happy? How do you deal with matters of your identity as a Jew? Who are really your friends or enemies? How does society deal with such deformities? Do other people with this deformity handle daily situations? Scliar deals with all of these issues with a good balance between humor and seriousness. This version is a good translation and no real problems in reading this English print.
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